At Fastly, uptime is everything. As an edge cloud platform, the company is responsible for ensuring that its customers’ online applications, data and content are readily accessible 24/7. With clients such as Vimeo, Pinterest and the New York Times, serving up content quickly is a top priority – and so is speedy, top-notch customer service.
Fastly delivers on both counts. The company has a customer satisfaction rating of more than 98% – a key differentiator in a competitive field.
But rather than resting on its laurels, Fastly is always looking for ways to improve the customer experience. This search led the company to Slack. The platform not only supports internal collaboration, but also allows Fastly to connect seamlessly with its customers.
‘Slack was the thing that made the most sense,’ says Kami Richey, Fastly’s director of customer experience. ‘We used it internally for cross-department communication and realised we could use it with customers too. It was a way to get that chat feel in a more scalable, accessible manner.’
Fastly uses Slack channels to connect with customers in a collaborative way that enables the company to solve problems faster – sometimes before they even begin.
‘We’ve got a very proactive model and try to get ahead of challenges. Offering Slack as one of our communication channels makes a difference, and we hear that from customers all the time.’
How Fastly scaled excellent customer service with channels
As part of its premium support package, Fastly offers enterprise customers a dedicated Slack channel. ‘We hear back from our customers that we’re like an extension of their team, and part of that feeling definitely comes from the fact that we use Slack,’ Richey says.
Uptime is important for all Fastly customers, she adds, ‘so they need an immediate response if they notice something suspicious.’ Thankfully, Fastly’s global support team is 24/7. If customers experience an unexpected wave of traffic, they can @mention a specific Fastly team member or type @support in their Slack channel to draw attention to the issue. ‘You actually see people come into the channel and start participating,’ Richey says, ‘whereas in an email thread, a lot of that’s done out of sight of the customer.’
After a customer support event, Fastly reviews the process, protocol and customer feedback to identify any areas of improvement. An NPS Slack channel keeps track of customer satisfaction and sends updates directly to executives. Kim Ogletree, Fastly’s vice president of customer success, personally gets in touch with customers who need extra support and will then assign action items to the right department in the NPS channel – product feedback goes to the product team, service issues to the customer service manager, and so on.
‘With Slack, the customer can pull in more people, we can pull in more people, and it becomes a collaborative discussion to solve a problem or answer a question.’
Slack enables seamless cross-functional collaboration
Successful customer service requires collaboration. With channels, Fastly’s frontline reps can tap experts from product, engineering, sales and billing and connect them directly to customers. ‘In an email, it feels a lot more siloed,’ Richey says. ‘With Slack, the customer can pull in more people, we can pull in more people, and it becomes a collaborative discussion to solve a problem or answer a question.’
Fastly also uses an internal cross-functional channel to bring together executives and subject-matter experts to develop solutions for support situations. Even if it’s a Saturday, key participants will join calls or send a response via Slack’s mobile app to keep resolutions moving along.
‘Because of Slack, we’re able to see activity almost instantly, triage events if needed, determine the severity, then pull other people in,’ Ogletree says. ‘Then we diagnose exactly what we need to do in near real time.’
The channel also provides a transcript of the event for future reference. With the full context, teams can explain issues during customer meetings and postmortem discussions – and share the knowledge with their colleagues to prevent similar situations in the future.
‘Whether it’s debugging with our engineering group or identifying an issue with the network or platform, the customer is able to see all of these other folks joining in near real time to help solve the issue, so it feels more collaborative.’
Preparing for big events with Slack ‘situation rooms’
It’s one thing to respond to big events, but another to prepare for them beforehand. When customers have an important event, such as an e-commerce sale or streaming experience, Fastly sets up a situation room channel to get ahead of any unexpected activity.
It starts with ‘a project plan that we’ll often pin to the channel – another great Slack attribute,’ Ogletree says. During the event, everyone hops in. ‘We’re monitoring traffic as the event is occurring, watching for warning signs and making sure everything is running smoothly,’ she says. If something requires attention, the team knows what to do. ‘We @mention the right people or have folks on call that we’ll bring in. The channel is one of our primary methods of communication,’ Ogletree says.
This proactive approach extends beyond one-off events. To communicate maintenances and other activity with its enterprise customer base, Fastly uses a Statuspage integration that provides near real-time updates. ‘We pipe that RSS feed into most of our customers’ Slack channels so they get status updates and can ask questions,’ Richey says. The integration gives customers visibility into Fastly updates and improvements.
Customer service has come a long way from tedious hold music and 45-minute waiting times. With Slack, Fastly acts as an extension of its customers’ teams, delivering a collaborative service experience with near real-time support and proactive problem-solving.